Updated: Oct 2, 2018
Am I the only one who loves to throw birthday parties, yet finds them incredibly stressful?
I have been slowly learning over the years about what it truly means to be hospitable. When I was a kid and guests were coming over, my sisters and I would joke about getting the house ready for the queen. That feeling of needing things to look a certain way never really went away for me. I have my list of things that HAVE to be done, or I can't relax. Clean kitchen, swept floor, and bathrooms fresh and tidy. If I have my way, the furniture has been vacuumed (we have two cats and four kids!), toys are put away, and noticeable finger smudges are scrubbed off the walls.
Just a few days before the party I read a great article on stress-less hospitality at Be Thee Inspired. You can read it here. My favorite tip was about prioritizing your purpose. If a clean house and perfect food is my misguided priority, I will likely miss out on fully enjoying the guests I've invited!
This was a timely reminder as I finished preparing my daughter's princess party. Not everything went smoothly, yet I felt like I enjoyed the party! I thought I'd share some photos, and all the "imperfect" things that DID NOT go as I planned.
The morning of the party, I carefully got up with enough time to run errands and clean the house. (I utilized my older sons to help out with this!) I was busy all morning, but not rushed or frazzled.
Imperfect #1 Fifteen minutes before the party, I realized I had forgotten to get ice-cream, and we were almost out of coffee cream! My husband was just walking in the door from a Rescue Squad volunteer function, so I grabbed the keys and raced to the store. Most of the guests arrived before I got back, but was able to not let it rattle me, because my priority was to enjoy my daughter's birthday party, not have things just so!
We didn't want to do a specific Disney princess theme, so my daughter and I went to a local store and stocked up on gold and pink balloons, gold ribbon, gold napkins and cups, and pink plates and striped straws. I tried out a cool trick where I strung the balloons on thread with a sewing needle!
Imperfect #2 This was harder that it looked, because I got several tangles in the thread. Next time, I will tie one end of the string to something and keep the thread taut, so it doesn't wrap around the balloons in a hard-to-see knot!
We found these adorable princess wall stickers, and made a feature behind the table. For the table my daughter picked out a shiny foil table cloth.
Imperfect #3 The balloons kept falling down with clear tape, so finally I pulled out the big guns and used a little bit of duct tape. The table cloth was terribly creased, and nothing I was doing was helping. It was also a little too bright! So I found a pink bed sheet, folded it in half, and toned it all done a little.
We had four balloons filled with helium for the center pieces. I wanted to use them for an outdoor photo shoot with my daughter.
Imperfect #4 I didn't get to do the photo shoot, because guess what, it was snowing again! Unless we wanted to do the photos in mitts and warm coats, it wasn't going to happen.
I purposefully kept refreshments simple, as I wanted time to relax and enjoy the party. I found a recipe for a pretty pink colored punch, tossed some chips into a bowl, and we ordered pizza.
Imperfect #5 The recipe used pink lemonade to make this lovely shade, but it ended up a touch sour. Thankfully the kids drank it anyway!
For a simple party craft we used sparkly poster board and cut out crown shapes. I found some glittery star stickers to decorate them. (I didn't want to have to pull out glue!) The kids each got to make a royal crown to wear during the party.
Imperfect #6 Not all the kids cared about making a craft. I'm glad I didn't bother to plan any games, because they were content to just run around play with toys!
My daughter picked out chocolate cake mix at the store. I was nervous, because I had plans to make a triple layer cake, and I find chocolate cake hard to work with. We found some edible gold "beads" for decorations and I made the topper from some glittery paper.
Imperfect #7 Sure enough, the bottom layer crumbled. I ended up scooping the top layers off and starting over with a more traditional shape. The mangled bottom layer disappeared into the trash can, much to the dismay of my teenage son! Thankfully, I had baked some extra cakes so we still had plenty to serve with ice cream.
Imperfect #7 I forgot to take a photo of the goodie-bags! We put together little bags of "princess treasure" with gold chocolate coins, candy bracelets, a big candy ring, a couple suckers and a party favor. I'm not super into the idea of good-bags, so we keep them pretty budget friendly.
What WAS perfect, was that my daughter had fun and enjoyed her friends, and I even enjoyed a cup of coffee with my sister-in-law and my mom! The stress was low, even with all the mishaps, because my PURPOSE and PRIORITY was on having a good time, not worrying about perfection.
I'm learning how paying attention to my priorities and intentions are the key to low-stress, and staying in tune with a loving heart. When I'm grocery shopping (which I do NOT enjoy!) I've been very intentional about smiling at people. I've had conversations with people at the check-outs and laughed with strangers. It's crazy how simply shifting my priority has been making this tiresome weekly chore a time of blessing.
I'm wondering in what other ways this mind set will work changes in my life. I'm excited to see!
How do you find ways to host without going crazy? Please share in the comments below!